The BBC received more than 2,000 complaints in less than 24 hours about John Sergeant’s departure from Strictly Come Dancing.

Angry fans called BBC phone lines and swamped the Strictly Come Dancing website, forcing them to shut down part of the site.

Upset viewers have also started an online petition calling for his return, which already has more than 10,000 signatures.

Sergeant announced he was leaving the show this week after he was saved by the public vote, despite judges Arlene Phillios and Bruno Tonioli branding him a ‘dancing pig’.

John told The Sun: “We had fun dancing and dancing is a wonderfully enjoyable thing, but if the joke wears thin, if people begin to take things very seriously and if people are getting so wound up that is very difficult to carry on the joke, then it is time to go.”

The BBC expect John’s last waltz with Kristina Rihanoff score over rival X Factor in the ratings.

John announced on Thursday his plans to embark on an all-expenses-paid cruise around the Panama Canal delivering after dinner speeches and showing off his dance moves.